Thu, August 29
Auckland – City of Sails – so named because of its large harbour holding hundreds of yachts. Princess Wharf was a familiar sight from a previous visit a few years ago when we explored the city and the Maritime Museum.
This time we decided to take the ferry to Devonport; unfortunately the weather caught up with us at last and it was quite a shock to go from barmy, warm Fiji to cold and rainy Auckland! Anyway, amidst grey skies and gusts of wind, we made our way out of the terminal from downtown Auckland onto the ferry, and in 10 short minutes we were in the heart of this historic seaside village which we immediately fell in love with.
There was a minibus waiting for us for a one hour commentated tour around the main sights, including North Head where we were able to take in the spectacular city and harbour views in spite of showers of rain. We also walked through one of the many tunnels, started at the end of the 19th century in response to the Russian threat and extended during WWI and WWII. Gun embankments and bunkers are still evident. We then drove up to Mt Victoria where we also had great views (in between the showers of rain!)
As we made our way back around the bay, we were amazed to see a school of dolphins – unfortunately it was raining at the time and we weren’t able to get photos from the bus.
Once back in the main street, we stopped to warm up with a coffee before starting to explore the many galleries, displaying oils and watercolours, glass, ceramics and jewellery. One gallery in particular caught our eye, and that was the Peter Raos Gallery containing many lovely original pieces of art glass. Website – peter-raos.com. We loved the charming mix of cafes and shops situated in mostly old heritage buildings, and when I found two little shops, one with yarn and the other with patchwork fabrics, my day was nearly complete. There was just one more stop to make……
As we walked on, admiring Devonport’s collection of many late 19th century villas, the sun came out and just around the corner we came across the Chocolate Factory – and free samples! The owner explained how the family business came about 20 years ago and we spent some time watching the chocolates being through the viewing window, before making our way back to the ferry.
Once back in Auckland, we found a Thai restaurant for lunch – and we timed it well, as half-way through our meal the weather changed once again and there was a brief hailstorm! By the time we had finished lunch and explored a few more shops, the sun was out again with patches of blue sky. We thought Melbourne was the place that had four seasons in one day – now we know that Auckland is a definite contender for the title!
I must admit it was nice to get back on board at this point into our air conditioned comfort zone. After 3 months of summer weather, the sudden drop in temperature to 13oC was a shock to the system. However, we had a very enjoyable day exploring Devonport – Auckland’s crown jewel.